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Thursday, 04/19/2012, 03:14 pm

Breaking down Jon Jones Vs. Rashad Evans


By Lewis Mckeever:
The hour is nearly upon us. It has been billed as one of the most personal affairs to ever grace the octagon. A confrontational feud that has been brewing and escalating for over 12 months is almost set for conclusion. Saturday evening’s superstars; Jon Jones and Rashad Evans have almost exhausted the UFC media with their to and fro verbal exchanges. The burning question is whether or not their conflict inside the cage will reflect the up and down, see-saw type battle of words we have all relished throughout the past year. It’s time to stop talking boys.

Jon “Bones” Jones looks to preserve the UFC light-heavyweight title and continue his dominant assault on everyone and anyone that dares to cross his path. Meanwhile, “Suga” Rashad Evans is seeking redemption. A man on a mission, set out to reclaim the UFC gold he once cherished, only to have it snatched away from his grasp of May 2009. Now, let’s get into the real meat of the match-up.

Throughout his 4 year Mixed Martial Arts career, it’s difficult for most MMA fans to come to terms with the success Jon has attained at such a young, vulnerable age. Although he has acquired UFC gold and steam rolled through most of the sport’s top competitors, “Bones” is still relatively new to the scene. Greg Jackson’s prized pupil has yet to taste any real adversity or danger in his UFC stint.

However, one could make the argument that Lyoto Machida troubled the youngster in his last outing at UFC 140. The Karate Kid managed to steal a round from Jones, tagging the champ with a solid, straight left hand, which seemingly sent Jon stumbling backwards, desperately seeking to regain his composure. Hardly a true test of Jon’s strength of will and perseverance, but it is still, to date, the hardest strike we have seen Jones react to (unless you want to count the illegal up kick Brandon Vera cracked Jon’s jaw with at “UFC live: Jones vs. Vera”). We have witnessed the veteran champions such as Anderson Silva and Georges St Pierre tested with hardship in their contests against Chael Sonnen and Matt Serra, but Jon Jones remains a stranger to such endangerment.

Switching perspectives to Rashad Evans, “Suga” has faced a generous amount of troubling encounters throughout his career. After his devastating knock out loss to Karateka; Lyoto Machida, Evans has demonstrated a true champion’s heart. Despite distressing injuries’ postponing his career, Rashad has successfully managed to string together a series of victories against talented UFC foes. Even during those wins, Evans has persevered through a number of nerve-wracking moments. Thiago Silva had Rashad dazed and confused during the mid-way point of round three of their encounter, alongside Rampage’s brief spurt of success in the final round of their long-awaited contest at UFC 114. Despite overwhelming criticism of Rashad’s performances in the above bouts, it requires heart, determination and focus to overcome such adversaries and to still prevail victorious.

Jon Jones is notorious for his overpowering reach advantage and large, lanky frame. Most of Jon’s critiques claim that he is too large for his weight class and should stop bullying around smaller opponents, but couldn’t the same thoughts be uttered about Anderson Silva? The reality of the situation is that Jones has been blessed with gifted physical attributes, in which he has specifically trained and honed his skills towards accordingly. Jones utilizes his daunting reach advantage to retain his opponents at bay, stifling them with a variation of low/high kicks, spinning attacks and an improving jab.

Rashad on the other hand, is an entirely different physical specimen. Short, stout and compact; Rashad uses cunning footwork, combined with select explosiveness, to dart in and out of his challengers comfort zone. Evans is renowned for his ability to seamlessly set up his boxing proficiency, with sudden, commanding take downs. This stand out attribute of Evans’ MMA arsenal is a very legitimate threat towards Jon Jones and it would be foolish to ignore it.

The concern with Rashad however, is that even if he manages to gauge the distance on Jones, how does he deal with the inevitable clinch scenario? Jon Jones is a Greco Roman powerhouse, attacking opponents with a variation of throws, slams and even suplexes (hi Stephan Bonnar). Rashad’s entire game plan is most likely based on closing the distance with his former rival, but he is simply outmatched with Jon’s overwhelming control in the clinch.

For those said reasons, I pick Jon Jones to finish Rashad Evans via TKO (most likely from elbow strikes) in the third round.

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